Letter from City Council Member Sydney Zulich to the People of Bloomington, Indiana

The following was sent to the Bloomingtonian and reflects the views of the author:

By Sydney Zulich, District 6 of the City of Bloomington City Council

To the people of Bloomington,
My name is Council-Member Sydney Zulich, and I represent District 6 of the City of
Bloomington. I am a Jewish woman. My mother is Jewish, her mother was Jewish, and I was
Bat-Mitzvahed when I was 13 in June of 2015.
I do not claim to speak for the entire Jewish community, as our views are as diverse as the most
divisive views in this country. My statement represents only that of my personal beliefs.
Regarding my vote in favor of our ceasefire resolution, I am going to explain my reasoning, as
our council comments were cut short.
To the Jewish people in the room who were against the ceasefire and may feel betrayed by my
vote, as Americans, we know that criticizing our government does not make us any less patriotic.
Criticism of the Israeli state is not a statement against the Israeli people, and even less so against
the Jewish people. At the same time, asking for a ceasefire in favor of saving the lives of civilians
does not mean that the Bloomington City Council supports Hamas, who I agree is a terrorist
organization. Our focus is protecting innocent people, even if the voice of Bloomington is only
one in a chorus of many.
The reality is that Benjamin Netanyahu has not only turned Israel into a nation that is no longer
safe for American Jews, he has also perverted any criticism of Israel to mean anti-Jewishness,
making it more dangerous for the Jewish people to exist anywhere. When Donald Trump was
President, I did not consider myself less of a patriot when I criticized his administration. I do not
consider myself any less of a Democrat when I disagree with something that Joe Biden says. And
I certainly do not consider myself to be any less Jewish when I say that Israel is committing
atrocities. Growing up in the Synagogue, I was taught to stand up for what I believe in. This is
me doing that.
To everyone who is not Jewish, I want you to know that almost every Jewish person I know,
once found comfort in the idea of Israel as a safe space for Jewish people should the United
States ever become inhospitable for us. Please understand that many of us are grieving the loss
of the one place that was supposed to protect us, in addition to the knowledge that that place is
now responsible for the devastation in front of us today.
I want to acknowledge that both Israel and Hamas both have a history of violating ceasefires. We
also must acknowledge that Hamas has vowed to repeat October 7 until Israel is annihilated. But
also, according to UNICEF, Israel’s retaliatory assault has murdered over 13,000 children.
13,000 people who could have led long, beautiful lives. All of these things are simultaneously
true. It is okay to hold space for that fear and grief, while we work to make our world a safer
place.
When I voted yes, it was a vote for peace. A vote for children. A vote for Jews. A vote for
Palestinians. A vote for Muslims. A vote for the Israeli people, not all of whom agree with what
their government has done. A vote for innocent civilians killed by both Hamas and Israel.
Thank you for your patience in my response. I have spent the past few days recovering from all
the hate that was in the room and over Zoom this past Wednesday. As many people are, I am
devastated that this was allowed to happen. It is clear to me that we do not have the proper
procedures in place to protect our people from hate speech and verbal abuse. I promise that I
will do everything that I can to ensure that this does not happen again.
Whatever side you are on, please know that the most extreme views that were heard on
Wednesday do not represent the majority. As humans, I believe that we are more easily
compassionate and empathetic than hateful and bigoted. I am not going to ask you to rise above.
Instead, I encourage you to fight against bigotry in any way that you can and any way that you
know how. If I can support you in that fight, let me know. If you need someone to talk to while
you grieve, I will be that person.
As a world and as a community, we can and should create a better world for our children to grow
up in, a world that would have protected those children in Gaza who will never get to see it. I
hope that no matter where you stand on this issue, you will take my hand and join me in
building that world.
We can do better. As your representative, I promise to do better.

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